Tales of Johan by David Harris Wilson

I found that Tales of Johan by David Harris Wilson was one of those novels you can't put down. 

The protagonist is Iain Broderick who comes from Inverdaig, a remote village on the west coast of Scotland and you go with him as he learns about his own family history and that of an old Scandinavian man who has lived in Iain's village for many years. The old man is Johan and he is an amazing story teller; Iain's narrative is interspersed with Johan's stories which are lyrical, magical and enthralling. 

Author David Harris Wilson skilfully draws you into Iain's life and you become fascinated by Inverdaig, its people, history and customs. The stories that Johan tells have the authentic voice of true folk tales and you feel the cultural links between Scandinavia, Brittany and Scotland as you listen to them; and that is what is good about this writing: you really feel you are in the room as Johan tells his tales. 

There is a large cast of characters and whether their part in the story is large or small each one is rounded and interesting. There is some very good descriptive writing of various aspects of nature notably the sea which is poetic and creates evocative images as you read; however this doesn't slow the pace of the novel which is a page-turner right through to the end. 

Tales of Johan is a well written novel with a strong sense of place and culture, an interesting and unusual story line and excellent characterisation. It's a lovely story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Visit the author's page on Amazon UK or Amazon USA

Review | Bunny on a Bike (humorous memoir of a Playboy croupier) | Bev Spicer

When I saw the title of this book for the first time I really laughed aloud; the image that it conjured up of a Playboy Bunny Girl riding a bicycle was hilarious. When I was growing up in the Swinging Sixties the Bunny Girl was the epitome of glamour and sophistication. This book certainly blows the lid off that idea!

I thought it would be an amusing book to read and it certainly was. But it's more than just a 'fun' read. Author Bev Spicer has created a wonderfully detailed picture of the Playboy world of the 1980s; but Bunny on a Bike is also a charming evocation of that time in life when you think you can do anything you want and get away with it.

Carol and Bev are starting out and have no idea what they want to do to earn a living until they stumble into a job opportunity to train as croupiers for the international Playboy empire. The story of their initiation into that world is fascinating and often hilarious but at times you share their frustration and gathering unwillingness to participate further.

The era is the 1980s which is explored in many aspects throughout the book. The efforts by the two girls to find somewhere reasonable to live takes you into the dark and seamy side of unregulated private landlords and you feel positively relieved when they escape and get somewhere decent.

There are some interesting supporting characters in this memoir that hopefully don't all recognise themselves. They help to create the sense of the era as well as providing back-up for the two protagonists as they work their way through the demands of their training and some extremely unhealthy life style choices.

Bunny on a Bike is a light-hearted and easy book to read. The writing style is clear and direct and conveys the sense that the writer is talking to you directly really well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading other books by this author.

Link to Bunny on a Bike Amazon UK Amazon USA

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Review | The Government's Top Salesman Tells All | John Problem

The blurb for this novel is short and to the point.

I was looking for a free download and it was the blurb that caught my attention and made me decide to read the sample on the Amazon site.

I was sceptical and doubtful about downloading The Government's Top Salesman Tells All even though it was a freebie.

But I was wrong.

As soon as I started reading I was engaged by the hero of the nation, Jason Bryggs. I thought he was going to be just another city slicker looking to make a killing for himself (which he is) but the cleverness of this piece of writing is that you like Jason, sympathise with him and want things to work out.

Author John Problem has a healthily irreverent attitude to the government and a very funny way of writing about "The Prime Minister and Nick". The opening of the book explains what Jason Bryggs' new job is. So, I'm giving away no secrets by telling you that it is to sell off whatever national assets he can in order to reduce the National Debt.

And Jason sets about his task with gusto as there's no shortage of rich buyers out there looking for the chance to buy Britain's heritage. Of course the plot derives considerable plausibility from the big sell-off by the Thatcher government in the 1980s of British oil, gas, electricity, telephones, water companies, coal and steel. It's not such a big step to what Jason Bryggs is commissioned to do to-day.

Some of the characters are a bit far-fetched but usually very amusing; at times this book is laugh aloud funny. The writing style is sharp and pithy and moves along at a cracking pace. I read it in a couple of sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. Light hearted and entertaining but with overtones of seriousness, The Government's Top Salesman Tells All is well worth a look.